Like most people who stumbled upon "The most honest three and a half minutes of television, EVER," I thought that Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" had provided the establishment with a second chance to take a critical look at politics and the media to correct all the lies and misdirections found in the news. And, like many, I have been terribly disappointed at how,instead of providing an honest portrayal of ideology, devolved into a poorly written leftist pandering machine that pretends to be anti-establishment but really serves as a tool for liberal catharsis, making it easier for masses to cope with the shameful state of news and politics.
Books could be written about plot absurdities such as when the executive producer of a major news organization confuses Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman or that an intern promoted to associate producer magically becomes an expert on Africa in order to cope with her self-confidence issues. For those who don't know, Africa is an extremely complicated region with thousands of cultures and languages, and to conceptually consolidate them in such a simplistic manner is degrading and patronizing.
But my problems with "The Newsroom" go beyond Aaron Sorkin's belief that his audience is incapable of critical thinking (and yes, you should be offended). My problem is that the show subtly deceives its viewers in its portrayal of the left-right paradigm and allows unfair assumptions about the right to go unchallenged.
For me, the camel's back broke last Sunday with Sorkin's complete disrespect for any and all supporters of Ron Paul supporters (libertarians).
Meet Aubrey. Our first impression of Aubrey is not positive. When she and Hallie meet Jim and Neal for a double date, she immediately admits (twice) to sneaking away with the hotel's champagne and getting "wicked hammered."
Already, Aubrey, a nice girl by any other measure, has lost intellectual credibility. She obviously can't hold her alcohol and doesn't have respect for the rules. Not to mention she's young and inexperienced and may not hold the most adulterated view of the world.
However, it is at dinner, where Sorkin really shames Aubrey (and therefore, libertarians). In the middle of a discussion about the middle class, Aubrey interrupts with the irrelevant declaration that, "We don't need clean air and water regulations, we don't need FEMA, we don't need Anti-Trust Laws, we don't need the IRS or the Department of Education, or the Federal Reserve. We. Need. Freedom."
The conversation then proceeds as follows:
Neil: "What the f*ck did you just say?"
Aubrey: "Uhh ... if you listen to Ron Paul..."
Neal: "I have. He's a batty old crank who wrote instruction manuals on how to get away with shooting the black kid who's stealing your car."
Aubrey: "He didn't write them."
Neal: "He did. and He signed them. And then he charged money. So I don't give a sh*t if he wants to legalize weed."
Now, the aforementioned policies are not without controversy nor criticism. However, there are strong arguments for each one. Sorkin, on the other hand, does not even acknowledge the notion that there is a conversation to be had. Instead, the drunk, young, naive girl with her nonsensical rhetoric needs to be shown how her feeble mindedness is not even worth debating. We know this because when asked, "What the f*ck did you just say?", she timidly with a reference to the ludicrous assumption that such arguments can't possibly be supported and instead solely thrive on the cult-like adherence to Ron Paul and his "freedom" doctrine. Neil then paints Paul as racist (not a warranted accusation) in order to validate his dismissiveness of Aubrey's statements.
Now, is Ron Paul racist? Probably. He's a very old white man so let's assume so. But presuming such a reputation, why did 25% of non-white voters favor Paul over Obama in a CNN opinion poll, more than any other Republican candidate? Could it be because despite any racial misgivings, Ron Paul would never use the state to discriminate against minorities?
Neil tops off the conversation by assuming that the only reason anyone would support a racist "old crank" would be to legalize marijuana. This is ignorant. Minorities are disproportionately imprisoned for drug charges, so, when it comes to serving racial equality, who is more racist? The person with the racial prejudice or the person who supports the violent racist institution.
Because Sorkin panders so much to the liberal perception, I can't decide if the "The Newsroom" is entertainment or social commentary. It certainly makes some great points about drone strikes, among other things. But the way Sorkin embeds liberal assumptions into dialogue so easily makes me think that maybe he is more concerned with the popularity of his show than an honest portrayal of political philosophy. After all, it is not hard to be popular by bashing drone strikes, the media, and the Tea Party. It is harder to present the strongest arguments from both sides.
In a way, I find the show to be more dangerous than the mainstream media it criticises, as the insinuations the show makes are too subtle for the average liberal to understand as propaganda.